Yesterday the Senate Judiciary Committee met to take up the adoption bill, HB 159. This Committee is chaired by the handmaiden of Senate Leadership always vigilant and helpful Senator Jesse Stone. He began the committee meeting as he often does- in a quiet and respectful nature, explaining in detail the work that has gone into the legislation at hand. In my experience this is his way of boring you to death before doling out the sucker punch of his substitutes.
If you recall, Chairman Stone offered the sub for Campus Carry in the 2014 session, which effectively gutted the bill. He offered the sub for Campus Sexual Assault for the 2016 session, in both instances bringing good, common sense to Georgia’s otherwise extreme legislation. It appeared yesterday this has become his legislative calling card. He has painted himself in the colors of a moderate. In his initial run for office, I remember a longer standing politico in Augusta (Stone’s district’s nearest metropolitan area) pondering the milquetoast nature of the Chairman. It is my personal belief that this is his means of a head fake. Stone gives you the idea that his humility is genuine and I can almost see him shrugging his shoulders as he tells one he is just grateful to be in the presence of other great leaders.
Don’t be ashamed if you were fooled. I certainly was.
I have always seen Chairman Stone to be very secure and confident in his control of his committee meetings, yet Stone seemed somewhat rambling in his opening statements yesterday. This was the first red flag. Continue reading “Adoption Bill Already In Peril?”→
Today marks the beginning of the legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly. The General Assembly has always convened in the winter months, giving a historic nod to Georgia’s agricultural economy. For me, it seems also appropriate that it sits snugly in the lull between the end of the Christian seasons of Christmas and Easter.
A few weeks ago, I found myself invited to a holiday party of a friend that is located in the town named after Jesus’ birthplace. On this evening, I attended what I have many times before in my hometown area: a live nativity scene. The congregants of the Nativity Lutheran and Bethlehem First United Methodist Churches gathered to tell the story of Jesus in the manger, and naturally there was a crowd of the devout.
As reported by the AJC, Representative Regina Quick has decided to not run again for her seat, Georgia’s 117th House District, occupying parts of Barrow, Jackson, Clark, and Oconee counties. Instead, predecessor Doug Mckillip and newcomer Houston Gaines will challenge one another in the Republican primary and local attorney, Deborah Gonzalez will run on the Democratic ticket.
Georgians may remember my post about HB 51, primarily sponsored by Dean of the House Republican Caucus and Appropriations Higher Education Subcommittee Chairman, Earl Ehrhart, this past session that Rep. Quick heavily defended. As a female, Republican, attorney, and someone who has the ability to be both intelligent and respectful in committee hearings, Quick was truly the best thing HB 51 had going for it. Yet the legislation was largely opposed by UGA students and ultimately was defeated in the General Assembly. However, carrying water for the longest serving Republican member of the Georgia House has its benefits, (along with Quick’s own legal chops) and Georgia may yet see her awarded a judgeship.
In every political system we have abuses of power, some more than others. They are not uncommon, and as long as the abuses are not egregious they can often times be overlooked. That does not make it right, yet one must pick their battles. It should also be said that the very legislators who commit these may do so because they sincerely have good intents. Sadly though, the general public is not always aware that some bills begin under these circumstances, and a bill’s origins often offer a more comprehensive view of the legislation. I would like to shed some light on one such case.
Today is the last day of the Georgia legislature, and I am ever the optimistic populist. So if you are watching from home, or from the galleries and have a bit of confusion about what’s going on, I thought it might be helpful to have your own copy of the Rules.
Click on the links above and you will find the rules governing the chambers. The Senate Rules are online at legis.ga.gov, but the House Rules were updated back in 2013 and never made it back online. With the gracious assistance of a transparency-loving House member, I scanned and copied the above for your reading pleasure/assistance before you head to sleep.
While these are the Rules governing the chambers, it would also be helpful to note that the House’s parliamentary procedure most closely follows the American version of Robert’s Rules of Order and the Senate more closely follows Mason’s Rules of Parliamentary Procedure. I’m a fan of Robert’s, but Mason’s was explicitly designed for state legislatures.
Now the key portions to pay attention to are terms like “germane”, “engrossment”, and paying attention to which floor votes are performed by a show of hands. These procedures are what make the action on the floor more interesting and volatile. Transparency is not the populace’s friend on Sine Die, and so I would encourage all Georgians to come out after work to watch the floors, if you want to really know what happens.
Want real time floor notes? Twitter is your friend.
On the matter of being Baptist: I have been and cannot imagine myself to ever separate from the title of Baptist, no matter how many Mike Griffins, Jerry Falwells, or Westboro Baptists there may be. In addition to that preference, I also have always loved my scotch neat, I rarely miss a chance to break it down on the dance floor, have been and will forever be solidly pro-choice, and as for my card playing abilities? My middle school girl friends can vouch for the repercussions of our serious games of five card draw.
If you are of the misconceived notion that Baptists are unilaterally characterized by the opposite of the above mentioned actions, I am here to tell you Baptist is a big, broad tent that welcomes sinners of all stripes. Like all Christians, we believe devoutly in the salvation of our souls given mercifully and unconditionally by God. There are some who believe in the sacrificial atonement of sins in the death of Jesus the Christ, and there are some who do not. Yet Baptists go further beyond the belief of merciful salvation and are somewhat unique in our deeply held convictions around full immersion baptism and regarding a term called congregational polity, where every church is self-governed, autonomous from the fold as a whole, and independent. Quakers, Puritans, and many of the congregational churches created in the American colonies were cut from this cloth. Unitarian Universalists, some synagogues, and mosques employ a version of this as well, but Baptists are often the denomination to be identified with this in mainstream Protestantism.
Legislative session will begin next week. It is my second favorite time of year. Clearly it’s no one’s first; but a strong second in a heated primary, if you will. Football season is my favorite time of year. Some may love Christmas, others Halloween, but my favorite time in Georgia is the fall in which every self-respecting Southerner picks a team and joins their friends and family in heated rivalry for a few months. It’s a second religion here, and I’m certain the rules are written somewhere in Leviticus, right next to church starting at 11am sharp.
The two seasons are not so unlike one another. My love of college football is because of the intense drama on the field in a strategically played game that has an extremely diverse mix of talent…Unless you’re Alabama, of course. Then you just mark your calendar with bowl rings and trophies. The legislative session is similar in that there is strategy of sorts, lots of drama and high spirits, and the talent is as diverse as the power. Freshmen legislators may rise up on the rungs quickly in popular opinion even if their bills go nowhere and the mighty three are typically protected and lead from behind as much as any star quarterback. There is also occasional Tebowing on the sidelines for dramatic effect and ingratiating oneself to the social conservative base.
However, the rumors of success and predictions for which way the score will go are as varied as the talent in the second string draft. Yet, I will try my hand at a few suspicions I have and we shall all see where the rumors of session will fall. Continue reading “Session: My Second Favorite Time of Year”→
After a weekend of football, and Miss Georgia taking the crown for Miss America, it would be my guess folks around the nation are wondering what other successes and accolades may come from the peach state? For me, I hope our future is found in growing business and a more developed economy, with meaningful employment for Georgians. Yet, I cannot help but notice there are some noticeable gaps still linger. These gaps are not ones that cannot be reconciled, but ones that must be addressed before Georgia is going to be placed on another tier in the marketplace. Many Georgians speak lovingly of farm life, and of agriculturally based, small town economies. Yet, if there is one thing I know of growing up on a farm in a small town, I know that you are always busy- there is compelling work to be done for maintenance, repair, and to keep the farm moving forward.
I have had the pleasure of travelling around the Southland a bit lately. Although I reside in the city of Atlanta, my favorite spot to get away is ALWAYS in the mountains-Georgia or North Carolina; does NOT matter. Wherever the pine trees are in abundance and the paved roads are not is where I wish to be. Cooler temperatures and rolling landscapes abound and the elevation of certain points allows me to indulge and get lost metaphorically in my own thoughts. However, I recently became actually lost-as in could not find my path back to the beginning of the trail. It’s a very different feeling when one is truly lost- the disorientation, the heat of the midday sun beating down, and my body already tired from the hike I had originally set out on, never expecting to cover this many miles or take THAT much time.
Clearly I made it back, but as I was climbing over hills and dodging the brambles in my unorthodox path, I thought much of how this could have been prevented. Where were the colored blazes marking the path? Why have the trails not been tended so that the vegetation did not cover my previous steps? I walked back over the same path many times in hopes of finding the switchback I missed, or the small bridge I had crossed. The path was there, I had simply forgotten its image and location. And in my foolhardy arrogance, I had not adequately prepared for if something went wrong.
One would never have believed I hiked 40 miles on the Appalachian Trail a few years ago and am a regular hiker who enjoys backcountry camping. Bless MY heart.
In more than a decade of Georgia politics, I’ve had the pleasure of sitting at tables of power that others may not have with both the House and the Senate. I have watched the paths of policy and party emerge from a grassroots level to the fall of some mighty grasstops under Lt. Governor Taylor and Speaker Richardson. I have been impressed with the larger vision of the present Governor and the efforts of the sitting legislative members to initiate justice reform, a transportation plan and now educational reform. I’ve watched the rabbit holes of RFRA and the Guns Everywhere bill send the legislature in strange meandering paths so that I’m left wondering where are our markers? What will be the footprints we leave for others to follow? More importantly, if Georgia wishes to move forward, what tools will we employ to blaze new paths? Continue reading “Georgia: Trailblazer or Perennially Lost?”→
As I have been sitting through education meetings this past week regarding the decision last week to postpone recommendations to reforming the QBE formula, it has been a frustrating experience. Yet, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully, this will not be a train. The Governor’s Commission on Education Reform Funding Sub-committee meeting this past week began with a discussion of this postponement as a possible positive: the added time will allow the sub-committee more time to reach a unanimous decision on recommendations for reform and ultimately for improving our education in the Peach State. Many are hoping that is true and that this dance is not another act in a kabuki theater of the General Assembly. Most of us are just hoping we are not wasting more of our time. One can certainly hope.